LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) – U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said Thursday the Kentucky Supreme Court has one of the “most important decisions of our lifetime” concerning a governor’s ability to override a state legislature’s law concerning emergency powers.
Paul said Gov. Andy Beshear is openly defying the state legislature that put into law an expiration date on his mandates that started in March 2019. Beshear has filed suit saying he is not subject to state legislature and Frankfort Judge Phillip Shepherd agreed with the governor and put in an injunction.
The case will be heard by the Kentucky Supreme Court in June.
“The most important thing is not who the governor is, if he is a Democrat or Republican, it’s just that no one person should make such important decisions,” Paul said. “It needs to be split between the legislature and the governor and we need to have checks and balances. So the law that says emergency orders should only last 30 days is an incredibly important check and balance.
“This is now going to go before the Kentucky Supreme Court. It’s the most important decision that will happen in the courts in our lifetime.”
Paul played host to a roundtable of small business owners – all of them suffering from COVID-19 fatigue - on Thursday morning at the Gatton Building on the University of Kentucky campus.
The business owners revealed similar stories and frustrations over Gov. Andy Beshear’s shutdowns since the pandemic started in March 2019. It played well into the narrative for the junior senator from Bowling Green who has given more than 20 speeches in the past two , about the impact of COVID-19 and why the state should be reopened, during a three-day tour of Kentucky.
Like the small business owners, Paul says enough is enough. Kentucky needs to fully reopen, he said, and one single individual – Gov. Beshear in this case – should have the final say on when life can start returning to normal.
“These Orwellian lockdowns have severe consequences,” Paul said. “We will experience the impact of these lockdowns on our economy and damage on our children for years to come. Now that vaccine distribution and therapeutics are widely available, it’s imperative that we reopen.”
Paul said much will be at stake with the court ruling.
“This is a very, very dangerous sign when you have a governor that will resist the will of the populace elected of the people,” he said. “This is very, very dangerous to our state and the constitutional aspect of our state to have a governor that’s acting beyond the authority of the state legislature and in defiance of the state legislature. I hope we get this sorted out very soon.”
Even beyond the aspect of businesses reopening, the lockdowns affected churches early on and schools throughout including extracurricular activities, Paul said.
“While local communities continue to keep many of the large businesses open, schools throughout the country, including many here in Kentucky, are still not fully operational,” Paul said. “This has created many obstacles for working parents and families as they try to make ends make. The science is clear though that children are at minimal risk for the disease and not superspreaders. Some private schools in the Lexington area and in the Louisville area and in northern Kentucky and up in the Ashland area were open throughout and never had any superspreader events.”
The small business roundtable included Dawne Perkins, the general manager of The Team Spirit Shop Inc. She has rallied supporters through “Let Them Play” and “Let Them Learn” protests at the State Capitol. There were 30,000 who came to the “Let Them Play” rally when youth and high school sports were on the verge of being shut down.
“The last 14 months there’s not been much business,” she said. “Right now, my primary focus is on the children of Kentucky because they are the future of Kentucky and they deserve better.”
Paul said studies shown thousands of students have never logged on at all even after receiving computers and internet access and they are getting woefully behind in education.
“I think what we’re going to find is hundreds, if not thousands, of kids throughout the whole country who basically have lost a year, maybe year and a half, of education,” he said. “This is a real problem. I personally believe education is that equalizing force no matter what your background or where you are on the socio-economic ladder. It’s your chance to get ahead. It’s incredibly important.”
The small business owners expressed multiple concerns about the past and present mandates and were often confused about where to receive the correct information about what was permissible and what wasn’t.
Integrated Sign and Graphic President Aaron Anderkin said the pandemic cost his Lexington company about $4 million in the first month.
“It was absolutely frightening,” he said. “From day to day, you didn’t know whether you were going to be open. You didn’t know what to tell your employees.”
Other owners said they were scared for their business and the employees, some who had been with them for 40 or 50 years. Some of those left the workforce when the government allocations grew to where it was as feasible not to work, said Adam Hinton, vice preisdent of Hinton Mills and director of Kentucky Welding Institute in Flemingsburg.
The others at the roundtable were ; Kaelyn Query, owner of Lexington Event Company and Lexington Event Venues; and Alan Hincks, owner of Dundee Tavern in Louisville.
Paul had some advice for the governor as it relates to getting more people in Kentucky vaccinated. He said the governor needs to release the vaccine to individual care doctors because people may be more comfortable getting it from their family doctor instead of a vaccine clinic. He did say the vaccine was vitally important for those who choose to take it.
“The reason we’re overcoming this virus is because 85 percent of people over 65 have been vaccinated and because a third of the country has had the disease naturally,” he said. “The combination of vaccine immunity and natural immunity has combined to dramatically lower the cases.”